The Scrabble Election — Capitalism vs. Socialism

Jim Woods

Jim Woods has over 20 years of experience in the markets from working as a stockbroker, financial journalist, and money manager.

Scrabble players know that the word “capitalism” is worth 16 points. That word has a higher value than “socialism,” which gives a player just 13 points. So, in the made-up universe of word games, capitalism beats socialism. Unfortunately, when it comes to the U.S. presidential election, we saw the opposite word win out.

Now, if you don’t believe that philosophical concepts such as capitalism and socialism really had anything to do with this election, then I refer you to the Merriam-Webster’s most looked-up words of 2012.

That’s right, capitalism and socialism were the two most looked-up terms in 2012, according to the dictionary site. In fact, traffic for the unlikely pair on the company’s website about doubled this year from the year before. According to an Associated Press article, the intensified health- care debate last summer and, of course, the run up to the presidential election helped generate interest in the words.

In the AP article, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, Peter Sokolowski, said, “They’re [capitalism and socialism] words that sort of encapsulate the zeitgeist. They’re words that are in the national conversation.” Sokolowski added, “The thing about an election year is it generates a huge amount of very specific interest.”

Ah, yes, interest in which direction the country will go next.

Here I think the popularity of the words capitalism and socialism prove what advocates of both sides already knew; namely, that the lofty concepts and the policies that come with those concepts do, in fact, matter to the electorate. Moreover, the increased search for both terms as a pair means that the conflict between the two ideas couldn’t be any clearer.

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So ask yourself, are we likely to see a march toward more freedom, greater wealth creation and higher standard of living that capitalism has provided, or will we get a harsh slog down the road of more restriction, more confiscatory taxation and a European-style welfare state as a result of the latest election?

The answer is painfully obvious.

Unfortunately, this isn’t Scrabble, and capitalism did not win this game. Sadly, unlike Scrabble, the fate of a free society is no game. Hopefully the U.S. electorate realizes this before “it’s game over, America.”

Follow Jim on Twitter: @Woodsish.

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